AZGA Arizona Golf Buzz: One of the oldest courses in the Phoenix metro area, Moon Valley was created largely through the efforts of Bob Goldwater, the brother of long-time Arizona Senator and former presidential candidate Barry Goldwater.
Bob is considered the “father of the Phoenix Open,” a longstanding event on the PGA Tour, currently sponsored by Waste Management and held on the TPC Stadium Course at the Tournament Players Club of Scottsdale; perhaps you’re familiar with the par-3 16th hole there.
Moon Valley, conversely, served as the site of an LPGA Tour event for 15 years and may well forever hold a distinction in professional golf the TPC Scottsdale will never achieve; it’s the golf course where Annika Sorenstam shot the only round of 59 in LPGA tour history.
Designed by Dick Wilson, it opened in 1959 and was redesigned in 1999 by Bob Cupp, whose portfolio includes Baltimore Country Club and Pumpkin Ridge. Cupp respected Wilson’s designs and tried to keep some of the original routing intact while modernizing the layout and adding length.
Elements of the $4.5 million project included new tees, greens and bunkers and re-contoured fairways. It remains a traditional style layout that winds its way through residential neighborhoods on relatively flat topography with some interesting twists, including a pair of double greens. In fact, Moon Valley, which is now managed by Troon Golf, likes to bill itself as the “oldest new club” in the Valley of the Sun.
The course has six sets of tees, ranging from 5,292 to 7,223 yards, with water in play on seven holes. From the tips, the course is rated at 74.3 with a slope of 125.
Memorable holes start with the third, a drivable risk-reward par 4 with a tricky green surrounded by bunkers. The par-3 fifth, which plays at 152 yards, requires a full carry over water and is one of the most scenic holes on the course, with mountain foothills as the backdrop.
Many consider the par-4 ninth to be the signature hole and the course has considered flipping the two nines to make it the finish. It’s only 383 yards, but the gentle dogleg has water running down the left side, starting about 150 yards out, and a creek that cuts across the fairway on an angle to the right side of the green, which is guarded by bunkers on the back right.
The finishing stretch can be a handful with a 211-yard par 3 at No. 15, followed by a 443-yard par 4 with no greenside bunkers – length alone protects this hole. The 17th is just s 360-yard par 4 but packs a severe dogleg left, tall trees and a lake your approach shot must carry to reach the green; it will also drown a hooked tee ball.
The 18th finisher, a 411-yard par 4 with bunkers along the right side and a lake lurking on the left, presents a severe, shallow two-tiered green guarded front and back by large bunkers. Your task is to stop your ball on the proper level of this small, 1-club deep green; accomplish that and your birdie putt is very makeable.
Moon Valley Country Club also has an 18-hole executive course called the “Moon Walk” that plays at 1,687 yards and provides a complete examination of any player’s mid-iron and short game prowess. Expert instruction is available from Tyler Kirkendoll, who works with tour professional’s games, at Moon Valley’s all-turf practice facility.
The club offers a lot more than golf, including a lighted tennis center with eight hard courts, a state-of-the-art fitness center, an impressive year-round aquatics center, and excellent full-service dining options.
The Sunset Room, the main dining room, features a terraced veranda and is the setting for banquets, dances and other functions. The most intimate setting, the upstairs Sky Room, offers panoramic views of the course and surrounding mountains. In 2009, it received the “Best private club clubhouse renovation” award from Golf Inc. magazine.
AZGA Arizona Golf “Local Hang” for Moon Valley includes Ammaccapane’s Sports Bar, just south of the club on the west side of 7th Street and the Pointe In Tyme Bar at Tapatio Cliffs, another half-mile south on 7th.